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Hardaker: Our sights are set

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  • Zak Hardaker looks ahead to Wigan Round 17 game against Salford on Friday evening.
  • The centre talks about previous encounters with Ian Watson’s side, remaining focused and how Brad Singleton fits into the Club perfectly.
  • Hardaker: “Having big games each week is good, it will keep us on our toes.”

Zak Hardaker says Wigan Warriors are excited about the number of big games coming up as they look to secure their top four finish in the Betfred Super League table.

Adrian Lam’s side take on Salford Red Devils on Friday evening at the Totally Wicked Stadium (K.O. 5:30pm), with a victory strengthening their position further.

Hardaker is relishing the upcoming games, believing it can bring the best out of the squad.

He said: “It’s the time of the season where everyone’s sights are set on a top four finish, which will give us a really good chance of getting to the Grand Final. Having big games each week is good, it will keep us on our toes.”

sw33_Warr_v_Wigan-1024x675.jpgHardaker is looking forward to the upcoming big games.

The 29-year-old is not expecting an easy game against the Red Devils and admits they have always provided tough competition since he has joined Wigan.

“It’s a team we are quite familiar with and always seems to play well against us. It’s a team that knows our weaknesses, it’s probably 50/50 since I’ve arrived. We are expecting another tough game, they have got some really smart individuals, but it’s one we are looking forward to.

“I made my debut (in pre-season) against them, then have played them another five or six times, so know them pretty well and the style they played.

“They’ve got a big pack in their middles, and when we have lost it has been there where we have not turned up. If we start well then, we have some special players round the back and on the edges, who can score some fantastic tries.”

sw29_Warr_v_Wigan-1024x695.jpgHardaker says he is familiar with how Salford play.

Hardaker has praise for Salford head coach, Ian Watson, and believes it’s his ability to get the best out of his players that has enabled them to reach both the Betfred Super League Grand Final and the Coral Challenge Cup Final in the last 12 months.

“Them reaching finals is not by fluke, they are a really good team who are really well coached. I was fortunate to be under him (Ian Watson) for a couple of weeks at Great Britain, and I think he’s one of the best in the competition.”

Despite their opponents losing 17-16 against Leeds in last week’s Wembley showpiece, Hardaker knows they will be determined to bounce back.

“Coming in on the back of the defeat, they will want it to turn it around. Sometimes you get a Wembley hangover, but in other cases it spurs you on to have a bigger performance.

“I have been there, on both of sides of the coin, so know it could be an easy or a difficult game on Friday, so it is about us turning up with the right attitude.”  

“We’ve had a few solid sessions, so the boys are all physically and mentally ready to go. There’s about six weeks to go until the end of the season, the games are coming thicker and faster, so it is important as soon as we’ve played one, we turn our attention to the next. One trophy has been won already and it hurt to watch, so it spurs us on.

“Towards the end of the year it is more about how we perform on a gameday and doesn’t really matter which team we play. Every game is crucial now, and we need to tick every box in order to win every game that we can.”

A late winner was needed against Warrington in Wigan’s previous game, but Hardaker says the team were always confident despite not leading until the 75th minute.

“We’re not fussed about how opportunities we get, because with one good one we can put it to bed. If we get a team in the grind, then I’m really confident that we can come out the other side. I knew we would win, and most the lads said they enjoyed the game.

“Most of the fans would’ve seen the team song, and it was the best I’ve seen since I was at the Club, which shows how much the win meant to the boys.”

ES12445-1024x670.jpgThe 29-year-old was pleased with the ‘resilience’ Wigan showed against Warrington.

Meanwhile, Hardaker’s former Leeds teammate, Brad Singleton, made his Wigan debut in the win over Warrington, and is tipped by the former to be a great addition to the squad.

“I played with Brad for six years at Leeds and got quite close to him. Sometimes you need to mould a player to the values of a club, but Singo is everything that Wigan is.

“He trains hard, plays with his heart on his sleeve, gives 110 per cent, is aggressive and is a lovely kid off the pitch. If you had to build a character of a Wigan Warrior, then he fits straight in.

“He’s pre-made for the jersey and that showed against Warrington. The coaching staff knows his potential and I believe he could be in an England shirt in the next couple of years.”


The post Hardaker: Our sights are set appeared first on Wigan Warriors Blog.

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